Sunday, 02 January 2022 21:48

Max Boot vs JFK Revisited

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In this latest installment of what is now a multi-part series answering the disinformation and lies of the Warren Commission apologists reviewing Oliver Stone’s new film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, Jim DiEugenio responds to Washington Post columnist Max Boot’s recent piece, which is devoid of any genuine criticism and full of non-analytic smears.

On December 21st, the Washington Post decided to publish an opinion piece by columnist Max Boot about Oliver Stone and his new documentary JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass. Like Alecia Long before him, and Tim Weiner in Rolling Stone, there was little pretense of Boot writing any genuine criticism. (Click here for a reply to Weiner and here for one to Long) After all, the title of the column accused the director of telling lies about JFK’s assassination. Boot then called Stone a demagogue and compared his work to that of Leni Riefenstahl. When a writer stoops to this kind of name calling by the first line of his second paragraph, one knows what lies ahead is going to be a non-analytical smear.

In the second paragraph, Boot calls Stone’s 1991 film JFK “the most deceitful film ever produced by a major Hollywood studio.” This for a film that won two Oscars and was nominated for eight. And, as far as Max is concerned, that disposes of that.

Except it doesn’t. When one compares the director’s cut of that film with the declassified record, one will see that compared to other true story films (e.g. The Untouchables), Stone’s film does not use an excess of dramatic license. The hyperbole used in that regard is so exaggerated as to be dismissed as an outburst of collective journalistic hysteria. The truth is that the people making these charges knew next to nothing about the JFK case or what happened in New Orleans with Oswald in the summer of 1963.

I know this since I am aware of those matters and did a comparative analysis of the first 16 scenes of the film with the new records made available by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). There are some things which appear later in the film that I would have advised Stone not to use, but there are also things that are clearly labeled as speculation or presented as theorizing. (James DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp. 190–94) To point out one major strand of JFK which was vehemently attacked at the time: all the material pertaining to the Vietnam angle is accurate. And further work in this field has made Stone’s thesis even stronger. (Click here for details)

Therefore, at the start, Boot shows what he is writing is bombast, playing to the crowd. In referring to the declassification process, he cannot even spell out the term Assassination Records Review Board. Or inform the reader that the Board declassified 60,000 documents and two million pages of material. Yet today there are still approximately 14,300 pages being withheld from public view: 58 years after Kennedy’s assassination.

Max then writes this whopper:

What has come out so far has done nothing to shake the conclusion reached by all credible investigators that Oswald was the lone gunman.

How does he know? Has he read the two million pages? It’s this kind of arrogance that has made a large part of the public so sick of the MSM that they have turned to alternative forms of media for information.

The other part of Max’s charade is this: He does not tell the reader anything that is in the film based on this new information. If he did, he’d expose his charade, because the ARRB did not just declassify 2 million pages of either redacted or completely classified documents. They were also able to conduct inquiries into ambiguities in the evidence. Therefore, they did an investigation into the autopsy of President Kennedy. Two of the witnesses they deposed under oath were FBI agents Jim Sibert and Frank O’Neill, who were present at the Bethesda morgue that night. Both men stated that they observed a large defect in the right rear of Kennedy’s skull. In their declassified interviews with the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), both men said the bullet in Kennedy’s back did not exit his body. (Doug Horne, Inside the ARRB, pp. 681, 685)

The agents had nothing but scorn for Arlen Specter of the Warren Commission. They were angry because neither testified before that body. They both felt this was due to Specter, since he knew what they would say would contradict his pre-ordained conclusion. They also both learned that Specter had, to put it gently, misrepresented their testimony to the rest of the Commission in order to keep them from testifying. (Horne, pp.702–05)

When the reader is presented with their evidence, one can see why Specter did not want them deposed. First, there is no autopsy picture of the skull wound they describe; a wound which would indicate a shot from the front. Secondly, their testimony vitiates the Single Bullet Theory that Specter needed to construct. If the bullet in the back did not transit Kennedy then Specter’s theory is simply untenable: another bullet hit Governor John Connally and there was a second assassin. JFK Revisited refers to this testimony. But Max Boot doesn’t reveal it to the reader, probably because it would “shake the conclusion reached by all credible investigators that Oswald was the lone gunman.” Or, in plain English, it would show that Max is a poseur.

Another episode in the film that would “shake the conclusion reached by all credible investigators” is the fact that there were two plots to kill Kennedy prior to Dallas. They both occurred in November of 1963. One was in Chicago and one was in Tampa. As essayist Paul Bleau demonstrates in the film, both of these failed attempts had remarkable similarities to what finally succeeded in Dallas. For example, in Chicago the profile of the fall guy—Thomas Vallee—resembled Oswald.

And the FBI informant who helped thwart the Chicago plot was codenamed ‘Lee’. (James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, pp. 204–07)

In Tampa, the suspected patsy was Gilberto Lopez. As Oswald was the organizer of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) branch in New Orleans, and its only member, Lopez was a pro-Castro Cuban who attended meetings of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. He had been hospitalized that year for an epileptic condition. He was in Tampa on the day of Kennedy’s long motorcade route which went past the 23 floor Floridian Hotel. According to Secret Service expert Vince Palamara, the authorities had men on every floor of that hotel due to information about a threat on Kennedy’s life. Afterwards, Lopez went to Texas, and on the night of the assassination, he crossed the border at Nuevo Laredo into Mexico. With money loaned him by the FPCC, he was the only passenger on a Cubana airlines flight from Mexico City to Havana on November 27th. The Mexican authorities later wrote he was acting suspiciously and they had an informant who said he was involved in the Kennedy case. (Michael Benson, Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, pp. 256–58; see also Daily Mail, September 3, 2019, article by Daniel Bates) On December 3rd, the CIA was alerted to run “urgent traces” on Lopez. Both the Church Committee and the House Select Committee on Assassinations found that, while the Warren Commission was in its most active stage, reports were “circulating that Lopez had been involved in the assassination.” (HSCA Final Report, pp. 118–21)

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, is the first broadcast documentary to include these prior attempts. For whatever reason, both were covered up at the time. If that had not been the case, it is quite possible that the successful attempt in Dallas would not have occurred. The reason being that the similarities to the prior instances were obvious enough that Oswald would have been removed from the motorcade route. Somehow, Max Boot does not think this information merits public attention.

The film proves matters that Boot labels “lies.” It proves that CE 399, the Magic Bullet, was not fired in Dealey Plaza that day and would not have been accepted into a court of law. It does the latter through an instructor in criminal justice and also the illustrious criminalist Dr. Henry Lee. The film proves that James Humes, the lead autopsist, destroyed both the first draft of his report and, even worse, his autopsy notes. It also shows that Pierre Finck, another Kennedy pathologist, had his notes pilfered. The film illustrates, with blown up photos, points of evidentiary discrepancies not officially explored in the so-called backyard photographs of Oswald. In the forthcoming 4-hour version, the documentary will present the late CIA officer Tennent Bagley’s analysis of the routing of the CIA file on Oswald and his conclusion that he was a false defector.

For Max Boot to write that the information in the film was debunked by Gerald Posner in his book Case Closed is the height of MSM clownishness on the JFK case. That was not possible, since Posner’s book was published before the ARRB went to work. For Max to use the late Vincent Bugliosi to pose the question of why there were no extra bullets discovered is about as silly. In the long version of the film, to be released in America in February, we will show that there is evidence that an extra bullet was recovered that evening that made it into the morgue. (Click here for details)

Boot goes off the edge when he writes that the film uses an absence of evidence “as proof of a monumental coverup.” The film clearly demonstrates parts of the cover up that were concealed, but have been revealed by the ARRB. Another example being the hidden statement of Dorothy Garner, the supervisor to Victoria Adams and Sandra Styles at the Texas School Book Depository. As author Barry Ernest states in the film, she backed up what Adams and Styles officially stated: that they were on the stairs of that building about 15–30 seconds after the shots were fired. Therefore, in all probability, they would have seen or heard Oswald coming down those rickety wooden steps, if he had been on the sixth floor. They didn’t. The presentation of this evidence by Mr. Ernest is a major segment of the film. How Max missed it, or deemed it unimportant, is inexplicable.

Boot ends his column by saying that the film theorizes that Kennedy was a “peacenik” who was trying to end the Cold War. This is not a theory. The film shows with new evidence that JFK was planning to withdraw from Vietnam; his policy to keep the Congo free from imperialism after independence; and his attempts at rapprochement with both the USSR and Cuba in 1963. The film uses excerpts from Kennedy’s famous Peace Speech at American University in June of 1963, where he clearly called for outreach to Moscow. After his death, the last two policies were abandoned and the first two were dramatically reversed—with disastrous results. The upcoming 4-hour version of the film goes into this issue in more areas and at greater length. Boot tries to neutralize all this by using the speech Kennedy made it Fort Worth the morning of his assassination. I hate to tell Max, but if a president goes to a city that relies on defense spending for jobs, he makes a speech about defense spending, especially if his election is coming up the next year. Max ignores Kennedy’s planned speech in Dallas for that afternoon, where JFK was to speak against the John Birch Society, about leadership and learning, about the importance of foreign aid to developing nations, the pursuit of peace, and how military might is secondary to maintaining a just and righteous society.

It is predictable that Boot would cherry pick the speeches, since he was and is a neocon. He was a former member of the calamitous Project for the New American Century, which advocated for American intervention in Iraq as far back as the Clinton administration. He was also part of the mythologizing about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for that debacle. Boot championed intervention in Afghanistan and opposed withdrawal. He had no problem with Hillary Clinton’s unmitigated disaster in Libya. He also agreed with her advocacy of direct American intervention in Syria. As several have said, there has scarcely been a war that Max Boot did not like—no matter how bad the results were. And they do not get much worse than Iraq or Libya.

This helps show why Boot cannot be trusted with anything dealing with Kennedy. In 2018, in his hagiography of Ed Lansdale, he wrote that JFK had tried to topple Patrice Lumumba in Congo. (The Road not Taken, p. xxvii). As with Posner debunking the ARRB, this was not possible. How could it be? Lumumba was assassinated before President Kennedy took office. One of the reasons the CIA took part in his murder was because they feared that Kennedy would back Lumumba once he was inaugurated. (John Morton Blum, Years of Discord, p. 23)

As the reader can see Max Boot is in no position to accuse anyone of telling lies about JFK.

(Click here for Max Boot’s twitter feed)

Last modified on Monday, 03 January 2022 05:05
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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